New Theme! What do you think?

Study, speak, and hang out with fellow Elvish students!

Quenya Grammar P73: Passive Participles

The Quenya passive participle resembles the English past participle: matina “eaten”. When a passive participle is used as an adjective (i matina massa “the eaten bread”), the modified noun functions like the object of the verbal action (“the eaten bread” is thing that was eaten). The basic suffix for passive participles is -ina (< ✶-inā), and is related to the common adjective suffix ✶-nā (PE22/136). It also competes with another suffix -nwa, strictly speaking a “perfective adjective”. Tolkien described these suffixes in several places:

vanwa, adj. “gone, past, lost”, irregular in having -nwa, usually a passive suffix (from Notes on Galadriel’s Song, NGS, late 1950s or early 1960s, PE17/63).

-na, adjective, simplest form of participle (no longer part of verbal conjugation) … As part of conj[ugation] -ina, aorist, is used … Simple past participle passive, kari-nwa, adj. -ina, after vowel stems -nwa, sinwa, sīna “known, certain, ascertained”. After intransitives often = participle active, va-nwa. This has a past form kárienwa (rare) (notes from 1967, PE17/68).

aorist passive adj. karina. also used with intrans[itives] as kwal- “die”, qualina “dead” (Late Notes on Verb Structure, 1969, PE22/152).

There is a fairly lengthy discussion of the two suffixes in the Quenya Verbal System written in the late 1940s, which clarified the difference between the -ina and -nwa. Of -ina Tolkien said:

The passive equivalent [of the active aorist participle] is ĭna. This is not [a] stem form used in strictly verbal expressions, since the passive was expressed by inflexion in Q. karĭna “made”, matina “eaten”; istāna “known”. NB. the inflexion is ĭna in which the [i] is independent of the [-i] used as aorist stem. The distinction between te ye matina “it is eaten”, and (a)-matis “it is eaten (one eats it)”, is that the second expression is the genuinely verbal one pointing to the action, the other is adjectival. The suffix is -ina which after ā produces aina as ortaina “raised”; but there are also many adjectival forms, isolated from their original bases, in which -nā or nasal-infix + ā is used with a past passive significance, so sanga “crowded, packed”, as n. “pack, throng”, √STAG (PE22/107).

The general “passive” participle showed the suffix -inā́: (cf. those associated with tenses): so karina “made”. This form being outside conjugation usually neglects the base-additions: farina “fugitive, hunted”: as in farino “a hunted man, outlaw, fugitive”. Other isolated forms show nā́ or nasal-infix + ā (similar to past tense): as sanga “packed” or [as noun] “crowd”; tañka, √TAK, “fixed, firm” (PE22/111).

Regarding “those associated with tenses”, the suffix -ina is also used to form imperfect and future passive participles:

The corresponding passive [imperfect] form was made from the present stem, followed by the suffix ĭna described above: káraina “being made”; orhalaina “being raised up”; mátaina, tyávaina, istaina, ortaina (only belonging to causative ortā) etc. (PE22/108).

The Future participles … Passive: karuvaina “going to be made”; matuvaina, istuvaina, ortuvaina (ortavaina, alavaina, keluvaina < ortáva, oláva, kelúva) [in QVS the futures of derived verbs used -va with prosodic lengthening] (PE22/109).

However, the perfect passive participle was formed using -nwa instead:

The equivalent passive participles were made only from the perfect stem (without augment) + the suffix -nwa. kárienwa “having been made”; mátienwa “having been eaten” (beside mantienwa) etc. … Since nwa is not specifically passive (see above) it is sometimes found with intransitive verbs in place of [active perfect participle] -elya: túlienwa “having arrived”. This is mostly archaic or † [poetic] (PE22/109).

This use of augmentless perfect + -nwa for the past/perfect passive participle survived into the 1950s and 60s: see the “past form kárienwa (rare)” mentioned above (PE17/68). In QVS, Tolkien described the suffix -nwa as originally a “perfective adjective”:

There was also a perfective adjective made with -nwa which expressed completion of the action (transitive or intransitive as the case might be). This is seen notably in vanwa (√BA “go, proceed”) = “gone for good, departed (dead, lost)”. In ordinary verbs it is usually added to the aorist stem: karinwa “fully made, completed”; tulinwa “arrived, now at hand”; alanwa “fully grown, adult, mature”; istanwa “known, generally recognized” (PE22/112).

Thus it seems that -nwa was not, strictly speaking, part of Quenya’s participle system, but rather was an ancient adjectival suffix with the sense of a completed action, though it seems to have remained fairly productive. One exception is its use in the past/perfect passive participle, where it was probably retained due to (a) its perfective connotation and (b) the difficultly of combining -ina with the perfect tense.

Forming the passive participle: In the system of QVS, the passive participle is formed by adding -ina to the verb stem, with the exception of u-verbs which get the suffix -na:

  • basic: ᴹQ. kar-karina “made” (PE22/111).
  • basic: ᴹQ. mat-matina “eaten” (PE22/107).
  • weak: ᴹQ. ampanóta-ampanŏtaina “*built” (PE22/118).
  • weak: ᴹQ. esta-estaina “named” (PE22/124).
  • u-verb: ᴹQ. liru-liruna “*sung” (PE22/117).

In QVS, half-strong verbs and a-verbs like ista-, nahta-, sulpa- and fara- replace their final -a in the passive participle: istina, nahtina, sulpina, farina. Based on an example in The Etymologies, the ya-verbs also drop their y: ᴹQ. perya-perina “*halved” (Ety/PER). For the most part, these examples are consistent with passive participles appearing in Tolkien’s later writing:

  • basic: qual-qualina “dead” (PE22/152).
  • weak: hasta-hastaina “marred” (MR/254).
  • ya-verb: ferya-ferina “ready” (PE17/181).
  • u-verb: turu-turun[a] “mastered” (S/223).

In QVS the passive participle suffix -ina can also be added to the present continuous or future stems to form imperfect or future passive participles, but the suffix -nwa is added to (augmentless) perfect to form the past/perfect passive participle:

  • imperfect passive: kar-káraina “being made” (PE22/108).
  • future passive: kar-karuvaina “going to be made” (PE22/109).
  • past/perfect passive: karkárienwa “having been made” (PE22/108).

Of these, only the past/perfect passive participle kárienwa reappears in Tolkien’s later writing (PE17/68), but the other forms might remain valid since we know the active participle could still be inflected with various verb tenses into the 1960s (PE22/154-155). In QVS the imperfect passive participles for derived verbs ending in -a added the suffix -ina directly to the stem, even with half-strong and a-verbs: istaina, nahtaina (PE22/108), sulpaina (PE22/115), faraina (PE22/116). This means that weak verbs like orta- could not distinguish between their normal and imperfect passive participles: they would both have the form ortaina (PE22/107, 108). The imperfect passive participle for u-verbs isn’t attested, but it might be liruina with a lengthened base vowel and -ina added to the stem (or alternately, just liruna).

Finally, it is not certain whether passive participles used as adjectives would be declined in the plural to agree with the noun they modify, but unlike the active participle, the general consensus among Neo-Quenya writers is that they probably do. The passive participle strongly resembles common adjectives like those ending in -na which all show plural agreement, and this would probably pull passive participles into the same pattern. There is one example that might illustrate such an agreement: rakine tengwi “stripped signs” (VT39/6), which might be the plural form of a passive participle rakina “stripped”.

Other views: There are one or two passive participles in the Markirya poem of the 1960s that break the patterns described above: rak-rákina “broken”, and possibly also rúkina “confused, shattered, disordered” (MC/223). Another example ᴹQ. nótina “counted” appeared in the poem Fíriel’s Song from the 1930s (LR/72). Prior to the mid-2000s this list made up the majority of published passive participles, and some older Neo-Quenya Courses concluded that the passive participle for basic verbs lengthened the stem vowel, including the courses of Helge Fauskanger and Thorsen Renk. These courses predate the publication of Parma Eldalamberon #22 (PE22) which describes passive participles in great detail. Based on PE22, I think the Markirya participles represent a transient variation in passive participle formation.

Furthermore, the suffix -na without an i is very common as an adjectival suffix. It appears with number of verbal stems, such as ᴹQ. harna “wounded” < ᴹ✶skarnā (Ety/SKAR) or melda “beloved” < ✶melnā (PE17/41). Earlier Neo-Quenya courses guessed that some of these were actually passive participles representative of their verb classes, but with the publication of PE22 it became clear that these were simply ancient adjectives, not part of verb conjugation:

-nā, -nwā. Whether this is ancient or due to the influence of the n as infix and in , these suffixes, as applied to verbs had usually an implication of past or complete process. They were thus specially used to form passive participles; though the fact that they could be applied anciently to intransitive stems shows that [they] were not in origin specifically passive. So kalinā “bright”. was anciently added to the bare stem, or to the aorist stem (whence came the very frequent ending inā). Owing to the many consonant changes caused by the addition of to other consonants the older forms, without intervening vowel, did not survive in any recorded language as part of regular conjugation [emphasis added]; but they all preserve many isolated adjectival forms of this form: as matnā “eaten”: Q matta “food” (Common Eldarin: Verb Structure, early 1950s, PE22/136).

Using the passive participle: Almost all of our usage examples for the passive participle have it as an adjective formed from an transitive verb:

In the last two examples the passive participle is the predicate of a “to be” expression (using the 1930s and 40s verb ye- “to be”), but it still functions adjectivally. English has several additional uses for its passive/past participle:

  • Indicating the perfect: “the man has eaten”.
  • For the passive voice: “the bread was eaten by the man” vs. active voice “the man ate the bread”.

Quenya doesn’t use the passive participle in the first way, because it has a distinct perfect verb tense: **i atan same matina is wrong, the correct syntax is i atan amátie. As for the passive voice, in QVS Tolkien said:

This [the passive participle] is not [a] stem form used in strictly verbal expressions, since the passive was expressed by inflexion in Q. … The distinction between te ye matina “it is eaten”, and (a)-matis “it is eaten (one eats it)”, is that the second expression is the genuinely verbal one pointing to the action, the other is adjectival (PE22/107).

According to this note, the passive voice in Qenya is not formed with the passive participle, which is purely adjectival, but instead using impersonal verb formations. However in later writings there is a Quenya phrase involving a passive participle that looks suspiciously like the passive voice:

Compare this to the active phrasing *ambar turu Túrin Turambar “doom masters Túrin Turambar”. This topic is discussed in more detail in the entry on the passive voice.

Finally, the majority of examples show passive participles for transitive verbs (those capable of taking objects), but there is at least one example of a passive participle used with an intransitive verb:

aorist passive adj. karina. also used with intrans[itives] as kwal- “die”, qualina “dead” (PE22/152).

The verb “die” cannot take an object, so it seems the “passive participle” for transitive verbs can function like the English past participle “dead”, that is as a past active participle, which would otherwise be quáliéla “having died”. But this formation has competition from the perfective adjective suffix -nwa, which can likewise be used with intransitive verbs as in vanwa “lost” and [ᴹQ.] olinwa “full grown, adult”.

Conceptual Development: Tolkien listed several participle constructions in The Qenya Verb Forms from the 1910s. This document divided Quenya conjugations into Active, Medial/Reflexive and Passive voices, and the participles for the passive voice used the suffix -la with all tenses (present, past, future) (PE14/30). The -nwa suffix appeared for participles in the active voice (PE14/28), so it seems in this early conception -nwa and -la were active/passive, as opposed to later when they were passive/active.

In the Early Qenya Grammar (EQG) of the 1920s Tolkien said the passive participle suffix was -ma (PE14/56), and there were two examples of it: rautanēma “had been stolen” and qetsime “were told”, both past passive participles, the latter in the plural to agree with its noun me “we” (PE14/54). In Qenya Conjugations from the late 1920s or early 1930s, Tolkien gave active and passive participles for both the present and past. In this paradigm it seems the passive suffixes are -ina/-inwa, much like QVS:

Participle active tule (tuli̯) p[ast] act[ive] tulilya (tulíla)
passive tŭlĭna; pass[ive past] tulinwa (tulīna).
… The forms in brackets are the older ones (PE16/128).

The most lengthening discussion of the passive participle appears in QVS from the late 1940s, as discussed above. In the older layers of this document the passive participle suffix was simply -na for derived verbs, revised to -ina: {istana, ortana, siryana, taltana >>} istina, nahtina, sulpina, palkina (PE22/114 note #85).

Neo-Quenya: For purposes for Neo-Quenya, I would use -ina for passive participles, added to the verb stem for both basic and weak verbs, but replacing the final a for half-strong and a-verbs, replacing the final -ya for ya-verbs and adding -na to u-verbs:

  • basic: cen-cenina “seen”.
  • weak: orta-ortaina “raised”.
  • half-strong: nahta-nahtina “slain”.
  • a-verb: fara-farina “hunted”.
  • ya-verb: ferya-ferina “ready”.
  • u-verb: liru-liruna “sung”.

Imperfect and future passive participles can be formed by adding -ina to the present continuous and future verb forms. For the past/perfect passive participle, however, the suffix -nwa is added to the (augmentless) perfect:

  • imperfect passive: mat-mátaina “being eaten”: i mátaina massa auva ron “the being-eaten bread will vanish soon”.
  • future passive: liru-liruvaina “going to be sung”: i liruvaina laire tyaruva lie raita “the going-to-be-sung poem will make the people smile”.
  • past/perfect passive: cen-cénienwa “having been seen”: i cénienwe orqui anyear rambalvannar “the having-been-seen [with plural agreement] orcs are arriving at our walls”.

Imperfect passives of verbs stems ending in a or u add -ina to the stem: nahta, fara, lirunahtaina, faraina, liruaina “being slain, being hunted, being sung” (the u-verb form is speculative). I would also assume the passive participles agree in number with the noun they modify as in the last example above (cénienwe), based on rakine tengwi “stripped signs” (VT39/6).

The variant passive participles in the Markirya with vowel lengthening like rákina “broken” might represent a distinct paradigm, but I would not use this pattern of passive participle formation for Neo-Quenya anymore given the preponderance of examples where this lengthening does not occur (most from PE22).

Leave a Reply